Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
“I didn’t expect to see you here man,” Jack says to me. His voice speaks with all the strength needed to talk through his smashed nose and eviscerated- ah, almost let it slip there.
The only person I’ve seen angrier is your mother.
“You gonna answer me or what?” says Jack.
I tell him, “Look, I’m only here because my wife’s always worried about my health.”
That part’s true.
I then tell Jack “I barely feel anything at all.”
That part is not true. There’s, it’s, it’s like a singularity of sharpness at a point on my lower leg. It’s like if the most cringe-worthy part of one of those stupid telenovelas manifested as a parasite. It’s like when Jaime Bosque stabbed me with a tire iron in third grade. That kid was strong. But this pain ain’t too bad. When I’m talking to Jack, or to you, it’s hard to remember that tire iron feeling.
Maybe if Jack got fixed up, he’d be inclined to generosity. I say to Jack, “Jack, let me take a look at your face, I know medicine.” He squirms away from my outreached hand. I don’t know why he’s upset— the stitches I gave Brianna last year held on for five whole hours. Plenty of time to heal up on its own.
“Señor Thumb,” says Jack, pushing himself against the other henchmen.
“Señor Thumb,” he continues, “if you knew what was happening, you wouldn’t have led me under that fire escape.”
That wasn’t my fault.
So I say to him, “Jack, if you want me to solve your problem, I’ll do it: wear a helmet. Wear two, actually— I just blueprinted something like that. If you give me my money back, I might even make one for you.”
His fists tighten, and his body tenses up. I wince.
“I don’t see a helmet on your [shiny] head,” says Jack.
Now that’s uncalled for. He didn’t actually say [shiny]: I just put that in my mind because I don’t want my inner child hearing such language out of his mouth. You like shiny stuff, right? But anyways, talking to my inner child like that, who the fuck does he think he is? If Sinister Sid were here, he’d smile with his golden teeth and whisper, “Your emotions are never wrong. Let your desires guide you down every right path, for there are no wrong ones. And remember, if I am not doing good for you, you are permitted to kill me at any time.” Well Sid, I don’t think you should be killed. But my emotions are telling me two things right now. One, I want payback. Two, I want to give into my leg pain and let warm tears stream down my hard cheekbones and black mustache. I’m only gonna follow one of those things. So I summon the sharpness of a hot poker to retort back with a “Go stick your head in a [magic mirror], you [pony].”
Otis, still standing in front of Jack, gulps.
“Oh [frolic] you, you [princess],” says Jack. “I should be making the uniforms round here. If I were designing duds, I’d have your suit stick your [Barbie doll] in your [play set].”
Now my actual inner child is getting heard. My inner child’s telling me to give Jack a kick so loud and painful that Jaime Bosque will hear it from across the country and start having nightmares again. I give Jack a fast kick.
It is loud and painful.
I used the wrong [wishing] leg.
Everything in that leg seizes, and the nerves flare alongside it. I regain my breath. My eyes water. Then I notice Jack winding up his fat arm. It’s aimed right at my charcoal-colored jacket, in particular the forearm, in particular where my tattoo is hidden.
I punch him in the face before he gets me. He recoils back, and collapses into the window behind us. The window wobbles. My knuckles sting, but it doesn’t matter much. Jack kicks his leg up in instinct. His leg hits Otis in the ass. Otis falls on OddBo, cracking his phone when they hit ground. They both yelp like John Henry’s hammer whacked their nuts.
Goddamnit. It’s like our scrap with Beaver-Man all over again.
Two security guards (didn’t even notice them until now, they’re such wallflowers) arrive to hold Jack and I back as we continue shouting insults at each other. OddBo, meanwhile, caresses his neck and calls out for a pillow.
As Jack and I spar in a deadly duel to the disgrace, the world moves forward. Narp, OddBo, and Otis all get called up to the emergency room proper. Twice that many people replace them in the waiting room. Jack and I don’t let up our battle of intelligences. And as the leg smarts from the kick, I notice that my inner will (as Sid might call it) grows stronger. Instead of remembering how hospital bills can wreck a family, or remembering what my wife looks like, I just need to remember if Jack will know what pinche punietas means. That’s a good use of all the air I’m breathing into my brain. Plus, I usually don’t like to brag, but I think I got the upper hand with a decisive “Eat a [Prince Charming].”
When Jack’s name is finally called by a raspy voice, the henchman sputters out a limp “Well, well, well why don’t you ask Beaver Man if that’s what happened?” before the two security guards drag him behind the swinging doors to the emergency room. I lay my head against the cold glass behind me. That feels good. For a little bit, at least.
Now here comes the bad part.
To Be Continued in Part 4